Down among the women; it's what we all come to"" being the reprise here and an indication, not of subservience but all the same of the cheerless lives of women with or without men, preferably with, even though these men, unloving, undersexed and generally graceless, add little to their lives. Fay Weldon sets her novel in the '50's perhaps to avoid any Liberationist association for indeed ""men are irrelevant. Women are happy or unhappy, fulfilled or unfulfilled, and it has nothing to do with men."" Her ladies are unhappy and unfulfilled and we meet them again and again in the polyphonic alternating continuity: Wanda, a weatherbeaten former card-carrying Communist; Scarlet, her only child, who goes from the disgrace of unmarried motherhood to the disaster of an elderly impotent dribbly old man; Helen, lovely Helen, in between two married artists X and Y; Jocelyn who had once been one of those hockey-playing head girls; Susan who had married Wanda's former husband and Scarlet's absentee father -- to her horror Scarlet drops her baby in her bed; etc. etc. Down, down, down among the women is the work of an astute and very funny writer whose characters seem to survive the most dismal attachments and their results -- perhaps that's the message. But at all times her very genuine comic touch is pinked by a satire which finds expression in small things and larger meanings. An achievement all the way -- a sad, cheeky and ingratiating book.